Printer Friendly

Dietary needs in Lyme disease.

Lyme borreliosis or Borrelia burgdorferi bacterial infection is the fastest growing epidemic in the world, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. It was thought to be transmitted only by the deer tick but fleas, mosquitoes, and mites have been implicated. A review of published research has concluded that Lyme disease is not exclusively vector-borne with compelling evidence supporting sexual and congenital human-to-human transfer.

So, timely treatment increases the chance of recovery from symptoms of muscle pain, cognitive impairment, memory loss, depression, numbness and tingling in the extremities, and fatigue. (1) Co-infections such as Bartonella and Mycoplasma further complicate a nutritional treatment regime. According to Horwitz, chronic Lyme disease should be called Lyme MSIDS (Multiple Systemic Infectious Diseases Syndrome) because co-infections are common and patients have been suffering many years without medical intervention for their illness. (2)

Testing for vector causes is only the beginning of care for Lyme patients. A complete profile is needed to access inflammation (hsCRP, IL6, IL1), gastrointestinal dysfunction (urine organix and/or stool analysis), and environmental toxins (urine toxic compounds panels, mold sensitivity, heavy metals).

Three primary nutrition goals are needed to assist patients for better recovery:

1. Lowering inflammation through improved gut health;

2. Improving immune function with adequate nutrient supplementation; and,

3. Supporting detoxification from pollutants to allow the body to repair itself.

Reducing Inflammation

The most obvious choice of meal plan to lower inflammation is a low carbohydrate, no-added-sugar, gluten-free diet. Suggested menus include the following:

* Breakfast: scrambled whole eggs, fresh fruit or pork chop, and fresh fruit.

* Lunch: salad greens, avocado slices, oil and vinegar dressing with chopped chicken or tuna, and apple or fresh fruit in season.

* Snack: rice crackers with goat cheese.

* Dinner: baked salmon, baked potato with olive oil and asparagus, or baked chicken with sweet potato and green beans with tomato and cucumber salad.

Food choices should not include any trans fats like margarine, fried foods, or processed foods (cakes, donuts and cookies). Free range eggs, organic chicken and pasture-raised meats along with organic vegetables and fruit are recommended.

Improving Immune Function

Nutrition management for Lyme disease requires dietary counseling about phospholipid requirements needed to rebuild cell membranes. (3) Treatment options for Lyme destroy cell membranes so dietary sources need to provide rebuilding either through food choices and/or nutrition supplements. Lyme disease patients usually present with symptoms of fatigue and gastrointestinal issues. Gastrointestinal dysbiosis is known to cause mitochondrial dysfunction and immune issues. (4)

Two key nutrients for symptom improvement are carnitine and choline. Carnitine is essential for getting essential fatty acids into the mitochondria for ATP production while enhancing immune function. (5) Carnitine is present almost exclusively in animal foods: beef steak 592 mg/100g, pork 172 mg/100g, fish 35 mg/100g, chicken 24 mg/100g, milk 20 mg/100g. (6)

Choline is the precursor for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin (components of cell membranes). (7) The major food sources of choline are egg yolks, liver, wheat germ, and gently cooked meat (NOT fried or BBQ). Whole wheat flour loses over 50 percent of its choline when refined into white flour, so bread/grain products are not significant sources of choline. (8,9)

Supporting Detoxification

Choline is not only required for mitochondrial health but also is an essential diet component for structure and signaling of cells, along with providing a major source of methyl groups in the methylation cycle. Poor dietary intake of choline directly affects cholinergic neurotransmission, transmembrane signaling, and lipid transport for metabolism. (10) As a component of cell membranes, choline is a direct mediator for issues like allergies and histamine symptoms. When choline is depleted from endoplasmic reticulum membranes inside the cell, detoxification of chemicals can be compromised. (11)

Aging causes lipid membrane composition changes which leads to a phosphatidyl choline decrease while sphinomyelin and cholesterol increase. (12) Many patients have been improperly advised to avoid eggs and organ meats (especially egg yolks) to lower their cholesterol, which can create further neurotransmitter damage. (The myth about egg yolks will take at least another generation or more to dispel!) To illustrate how important these foods are in membrane healing, consider this comparison: (13)

3 egg yolks = 680 mg choline

(3 egg whites = 1mg):

3 ounces beef liver = 400 mg choline:

3 ounces wheat germ= 150 mg choline.

Emerging nutritional evidence has revealed how choline plays a critical role in human health. Without an egg a day, dietary supplementation is usually necessary to meet choline requirements of 425 mg/day for adult women and 500 mg/day for adult men. (14)

If lecithin were a drug instead of a dietary supplement, physicians would be prescribing it for detoxification in patients with central nervous system, cardiovascular and liver disorders in addition to Lyme disease patients. Beware: lecithin products that list choline chloride as an ingredient are synthetic and do not contain natural phosphatidylcholine.

Lipid replacement therapy can be a useful detoxifier that helps repair nerve and mitochondrial membranes damaged by Lyme and co-infections. (15) Oral supplements and intravenous treatments can help restore membrane permeability. Once the inner membrane of the mitochondria is damaged, the ability to produce energy/ATP and maintain nutrient uptake is impaired. (16) The result is fatigue and inflammation experienced by Lyme disease patients. Lipid replacement therapy can be an effective way for Lyme patients to start the healing process and reduce their symptoms.


(1.) Whitaker JA. New quantitative rapid test for diagnosing Lyme disease. FOCUS. Oct 2003.

(2.) Horowitz R. Lyme Disease and Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome (MSIDS).

(3.) Levine S. Repair the membrane, restore the body: a break through discovery comes of age. FOCUS. Aug 2012.

(4.) Ott SJ, et al. Reduction in diversity of the colonic mucosa associated bacterial microflora in patients with active inflammatory bowel disease. Gut. 2004.

(5.) De Simone C, et al. Vitamins and immunity: II. Influence of L-carnitine on the immune system. Acta Vitaminol Enzymol. 1982.

(6.) Gaby AR. Nutritional Medicine. 2001.

(7.) Gaby AR. Nutritional Medicine. 2001.

(8.) Zeisel SH, et al. Concentrations of choline-containing compounds and betaine in common foods. J Nutr. 2003.

(9.) Weihrauch JL, Son Y-S. The phospholipid content of foods. JAOCS. Dec 1983.

(10.) Rottem S, Salman M. The cell membrane of mycoplasma penetrans: lipid composition and phospholipase A1 activity. Biochimica et Biophysia Acta. 1995.

(11.) Rogers SA. Arthritis: getting off the medication merry-go-round. NE Center for Environmental Medicine Health Letter. Nov/Dec 1995.

(12.) McDonagh EW. Anti-aging properties of phosphatidylcholine. The Original Internist. Dec 2002.

(13.) Buhner SH. Healing Lyme Disease Coinfections. Healing Arts Press. Rochester VT 2013.

(14.) Institute of Medicine. National Academy of Sciences USA. Dietary reference intakes for thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, panththenic acid, biotin and choline. Wash DC: National Academy Press 1998.

(15.) Nicolson GL. Considerations when undergoing treatment for chronic illnesses and autoimmune diseases. Intern J Medicine. 1998.

(16.) Ash ME, Nicolson GL. Lipid replacement therapy (LRT), fatigue and dysbiosis- the mitochondrial and immune connection. FOCUS. Aug 2012.

by Betty Wedman-St Louis, PhD

Betty Wedman-St Louis, PhD, is a licensed nutritionist, specializing in digestive diseases, diabetes, cancer, and environmental health issues, who has been a practicing nutrition counselor for over 40 years. Her BS in foods and business from the University of Minnesota introduced her to how the food industry influences eating habits. Dr. Wedman-St Louis completed her MS in nutrition at Northern Illinois University and had a private practice at the Hinsdale Medical Center before completing her PhD in nutrition and environmental health from the Union Institute in Cincinnati. Dr. Wedman-St Louis is the author of numerous published articles on current nutrition topics. She currently writes a personal health column for the Tampa Bay Times and maintains a private practice in Pinellas Park, Florida. Her website is
COPYRIGHT 2017 The Townsend Letter Group
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2017 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Wedman-St Louis, Betty
Publication:Townsend Letter
Date:Jul 1, 2017
Previous Article:Hyperthermia treatment.
Next Article:Low-dose immunotherapy (LDI), part 2: Clinical considerations.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters